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CCT to cover 10 M high school students

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad

MANILA, Philippines - More than 10 million high school students will be covered by the administration’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program next year.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has told reporters that the program would target 10.2 million secondary-level students who belong to the more than four million “poorest of the poor” families receiving monthly dole-outs of up to P1,400.

He said President Aquino expanded the coverage of the CCT program after finding out that many call center employees finished only high school education.

He said the administration reckons that high school graduates would have better chances of getting employed than those who just completed elementary schooling.

He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is administering the CCT program, has already identified the targeted poor students who would be helped to finish high school education.

The present coverage of cash assistance is limited to families who keep their children in kinder and elementary school.

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Abad said because of the program’s expanded coverage, Aquino is seeking a P63-billion CCT budget for 2014. The proposed funding is about P19 billion more than this year’s P44-billion outlay for cash dole-outs, he said.

Despite the financial help they are receiving from the government, many CCT beneficiaries still feel that their plight is not improving.

In a television interview, Abad attributed such sentiment to “chronic poverty.” Such beneficiaries are so poor that they feel they remain poor even with government assistance, he said.

He said it would take time before people could get themselves out of poverty.

CCT critics claim the funds could better be used for infrastructure projects that generate jobs.

The P19 billion in CCT funds for the DSWD is one of the highest funding increases among departments and other agencies.

Through Abad, Aquino presented his proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other leaders of the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Later that day, the House, in plenary session, referred the budge proposal to its appropriations committee, which Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab chairs.

As in the past three years, Belmonte said his chamber would approve the budget before the end of the year.


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